Our goal in this newsletter is simple: To help you and your family achieve a juicy,
succulent, out-of-this-world tasting turkey; the centre piece of most
Thanksgiving dinners and other special occasions. We start with a quality turkey
humanely raised without the use of antibiotics and growth
hormones from The Healthy Butcher. We then take the turkey, pamper it
in a salty bath, stuff it with a classic stuffing if your heart so desires, and
massage it with an herbed butter before roasting it to perfection.
SIZING YOUR TURKEY
Use this simple equation to size your bird correctly: Number of People x 1.3 (Rounded-Up) = Size of Turkey required. For example; for 11 guests, your Turkey should weigh 15 lbs. (11 x 1.3 = 14.3 lbs.) Keep in mind that if you're buying a fresh turkey
from The Healthy Butcher, or another quality butcher shop for that matter, you
may have to suck it up and buy a turkey larger than you need for the one dinner. Why? Small farmers that grow quality turkeys usually grow them only for the
holidays and use these occasions to sell larger birds. But don't fret, buying a
larger turkey means more leftovers. Freeze the extra cooked turkey and you'll
have quick dinners for some time; the options are endless - stir-fry dishes,
pizzas, fajitas, chilis, sandwiches, salads and soups are only a few.
DON'T SKIP THIS STEP. This is the key to achieving The Perfect
Turkey. Yes, it involves a little planning and a little extra work. Trust us,
it's worth it. The brine not only brings out the turkey's flavour, but is vital
for juiciness and texture. The brine we suggest is composed predominantly of
salt. The salt you choose is very important. A good quality sea salt or Kosher
salt works better. And the finer the salt, the less you need. If you want
to make life easy on yourself, The Healthy Butcheroffers a signature Turkey brine
for $9.99 per container pre-mixed with herbs, orange, and other wonderful
- ½ cup kosher salt
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
- 1 bunch fresh sage
- 3 tablespoons black pepper corns, coarsely ground
- 2 bay leaves, torn into pieces
- 1 head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
Instructions for Brining:
Clean the turkey by removing the giblets and any pin feathers. Rinse
well under cold tap water. Heat 2 litres of water in a pot, add all brine
ingredients into the water, and stir until the salt and sugar are fully
dissolved. Chill the brine mixture in the fridge. Add another 3 litres of cold
water to the brine.
For the steeping, you can use a deep roasting pan, casserole dish, or other
container big enough to house the turkey and place it in your fridge. Or, if
you're like most people and don't have such a container in your arsenal, use two
strong, brining bags or white plastic bags (not made of recycled materials), and
put the turkey with the brine in the doubled-bag. Then, you can place the
bagged-and-steeped turkey in a cooler with a significant supply of ice to ensure
the turkey stays cold. The goal in either method is to submerge the bird
completely, therefore add more water if needed. If you're using a roasting pan
and the turkey is not completely submerged, turn the turkey every few hours and
cover with plastic wrap each time. If you're using the bag method,
squeeze out as much air as possible and close each bag separately. Make sure to
place a bag of ice or other weighted object on the top of the turkey to ensure
it stays submerged and does not float to the top.
Brine for up to 24 hours for very large birds (20 pounds and up). Avoid
over-brining which will result in a salty bird; overnight for 8 hours works
perfectly for most turkeys. Before seasoning or stuffing, remove the turkey from
the brine, rinse with cold water, and dry with paper towels.
SEASONING, STUFFING & GRAVY
There is no shortage of stuffing and gravy recipes in cookbooks and on the
Internet. And we at The Healthy Butcher will gladly recommend recipes
if you request. But what it comes down to is this - if you are going to stuff The Perfect Turkey or make a gravy, we recommend following the recipe
that your Mom uses, your Grandma uses, or the one your Aunt Fill-in-the-name
uses year-after-year. Seriously, turkey at Thanksgiving is a comfort food- use
a recipe that closely resembles what you associate stuffing and gravy to taste
like during this occasion. That recipe will yield the best results for you and
your family. Be sure to stuff the turkey right before cooking (not the day
before) to avoid the growth of bacteria in your stuffing.
We do, however, strongly suggest the following buttering of your home-made
Make a herb butter by blending the following ingredients in a food processor:
Before cooking your turkey, slide a small rubber spatula between the skin and
the breast meat to separate them. Use a spoon and your fingertips to spread
about half of the herb butter evenly over the whole breast area. Rub the
remaining butter all over the outside of the bird. Don't be afraid to get your
hands dirty - the fat from the turkey combined with the butter will leave your
skin feeling soft and supple. ;-)
Season the inside of the cavity with salt, pepper, and two quartered onions.
Pre-heat your oven to 325ºF (163ºC). Higher temperatures may toughen protein and
cause shrinkage. Although not essential, a cup or two of stock added to the
bottom of the roasting pan increases moistness. A thermometer is essential for
accuracy in cooking a large turkey.
Roast the turkey, breast-side up, until a thermometer inserted into the thigh
reads 165ºF (74ºC) for an unstuffed turkey or 175-180ºF (80ºC) for a stuffed
turkey. (See roasting chart below for approximate roasting times). Yes, we know
that 165ºF doesn't jive with other recipes you'll find which call for 180-185.
At 180º, you will have successfully achieved cardboard turkey - congratulations.
At 165ºF, turkey is moist and succulent. A temperature of 165ºF is enough
(actually 160ºF is enough) to kill contaminants, including salmonella. Plus,
keep in mind that the internal temperature will continue to rise several degrees
while the turkey is resting for the recommended 20-30 minutes before carving. A
stuffed turkey, unfortunately, requires a higher thigh temperature to ensure the
stuffing has reached 165ºF - check this with your thermometer as well.
For larger birds (i.e. 15lbs and up), cover the entire pan with a loose tent of
aluminum foil for the first 1½ hours, then remove to allow the turkey to brown.
Basting the turkey is always a good idea, but limit the number of times you open
and close your oven (once an hour is sufficient). Opening the oven will alter
the length of cooking time. Remove turkey when cooking is completed and let
stand 25 minutes to allow the juices to set.
Approximate Fresh Turkey Roasting Times @ 325ºF in a Conventional Oven
(every oven is different - convection ovens will reduce the time needed - use
this table as a planning guide only; measure the thigh temperature 45 minutes
before the estimated time in the table and gauge at that point how much more
time your turkey will need.)
Fresh Turkey Roasting Times @ 325ºF in a Conventional Oven (every oven is different - convection ovens will reduce the time needed - use this table as a planning guide only; measure
the thigh temperature 45 minutes before the estimated time in the table and gauge at
that point how much more time your turkey will need.)
8 to 12 pounds
2¾ to 3 hours
3 to 3½ hours
12 to 14
3 to 3¾ hours
3½ to 4 hours
14 to 18
3¾ to 4¼ hours
4 to 4¼ hours
18 to 20
4¼ to 4½ hours
4¼ to 4¾ hours
20 to 24
4½ to 5 hours
4¾ to 5¼ hours
24 to 30
5 to 5¼ hours
5¼ to 6¼ hours
The Perfect Turkey: an Organic specimen than is brined and roasted according to
the above instructions, is guaranteed to impress any gourmand. Don't forget to
match the turkey with a couple of nice wines. A Sauvignon Blanc, or a
medium-bodied Zinfandel should pair well with the turkey, cranberry sauce, and
other traditional side dishes. And enjoy the leftovers as much as the dinner!
HOW TO SPATCHCOCK, ROAST & CARVE A TURKEY
Do you take your whole Turkey to the table and carve it for your family? If not, then the video below is for you!
Imagine roasting a whole turkey in 1/3 of the time, with the resulting turkey being the juiciest turkey ever! This is the second in our “Roasting the Perfect Turkey” series, where Head Butcher Dave Meli demonstrates the ins and outs of preparing the ultimate Spatchcocked Turkey which will leave your guests begging for seconds (and thirds)!